Notes from New Orleans: A New Vision for B.W. Cooper

Posted on: January 16th, 2008 by Walter Gallas

I sat in on the presentation by KBK Enterprises of the results of B.W. Cooper residents’ visioning and planning for the redevelopment of the public housing site. About 45 residents saw the proposed site plan for Phase 1, which will accommodate 410 units. They were also shown nine different building types, which will contain one to four units each and will be placed around greens and backed by parking lanes on the interior of five large blocks.

Residents were told that Phase 2 will redevelop the block containing the 300 units currently occupied by B. W. Cooper residents. This phase won’t begin until residents are able to move into the new housing—which is scheduled for completion in September 2010. The residents were unanimously positive and supportive about what they saw and heard, hailing the new designs that the architect explained “have all the characteristics that a real house should have,” notably a defined front and back and generous porches. It’s hard to argue for preservation of the solid old brick buildings of B. W. Cooper to an audience that sees them as old-fashioned, cramped, dirty, and reminders of crime and violence.

A thirty-day comment period for the designs begins now. The designs are to be posted at the Housing Authority of New Orleans web site, at the B. W. Cooper and HANO offices, and at the New Orleans main public library. The designs aside, we will have an opportunity to discuss the progress of the redevelopment of the four public housing sites—and compliance with the agreements forged as a result of the Section 106 review process—at a meeting with HUD and HANO at the end of January. This progress meeting was one of the requirements built into the 106 agreements.

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